I can’t believe we’ve never defined a Finance Committee Meeting!!!
What is it?
Only the quintessential step in organizing your debt free journey. Or, at least it should be. The Finance Committee Meeting (even if yours is a committee of 1) sets the foundation for all stake holders engaged in dumping debt.
We borrowed the name from a good friend and member of #teamdebtfree who is skilled at developing creative monikers. I’m not ashamed to borrow, and thus adopt as my own. I’ll give credit where credit is due…for a little while. LOL!
When Should You Schedule Them
Finance Committee Meetings should be scheduled during a time when everyone is available and able to be mentally engaged. You might want to avoid:
- Major sporting events if you live with sports fanatics.
- Nap time.
- Pre-coffee periods of the morning.
- Thursday evening at 8pm CST for the Scandal fans in your life.
Obviously I kid. The idea is to set a time when everyone (and I do mean everyone) is available and able to focus attentively.
Please try to keep your meetings to 30 minutes (45 if you are pushing it). They shouldn’t be a long, drawn out chat fest. Keep them short and to the point so they don’t become a chore.
How Frequently Should You Plan Them
The frequency is entirely up to you. For some, a month’s worth of planning is adequate. For another, the frequency will follow your income pattern. Select a time frame that works for you and the family and stick to a routine. Consistency is key for buy-in.
What’s on the Agenda
Let’s say this is your first meeting. You’ll want to have some numbers that describe your financial situation. How much debt do you have? What income sources do you have currently? What ideas do you have for increasing your cash flow – if income does not exceed outflow?
Your first objective will be to understand exactly where your money is going. This might require a tracking exercise. Spend a week figuring out exactly where your money is going so that when you reconvene to work out the budget, you are working with meaningful numbers.
You may need to schedule a series of Finance Committee Meetings to establish a plan. That’s OK. Remember, you didn’t get into debt overnight. Dumping debt will take time. Be patient with yourself (and spouse and/or children). This will be a process that requires a mindset shift, a change in attitude, and modification to current behavior.
If you expect too much too soon, you may become discouraged and give up if there are no immediate results. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Address what you can in 30-45 minutes. Take a break and then try again.
For those who’ve been on the path for some time, your meetings should:
- Review interim goals set from a prior meeting.
- Ensure plans to meet existing goals are still on track.
- Identify any challenges from the prior period and develop solutions or alternative approaches.
- Determine any less common expenses for the upcoming period (i.e. gifts, travel, or higher heating bill due to colder weather).
- Create the budget for the upcoming period.
- Outline all upcoming activities for the next period.
- Pay bills or shift money into appropriate accounts. Regularly review account to scan for incorrect or unauthorized transactions.
- Check on the status of any expected auto pay accounts.
- Celebrate any interim milestones.
- Imagine how excited you’ll be to reach your ultimate goal!
When I’m of sound mind and body, I also like to check in on my annual goals on a quarterly basis.
Where Should You Hold Them
Conduct your meetings anywhere you can be comfortable and undisturbed by anything or anyone. It helps to have Internet access to check accounts and access any online tools useful to prepare your “reports” (i.e. the budget).
Should the Children Be Involved
Short answer: Yes!
You may want to bring them in for short periods to talk about age-appropriate expenses or activities. Older children have schedules with the related expenses, needs, wants, and smart phones. They should be involved in the planning and discussion about how and when those expenses will be met.
The Finance Committee Meeting is a fantastic opportunity to create teachable moments while passing along valuable life skills. I have more ideas for you and the children in 5 Ways to Make Budgeting a Family Affair.
Of course, the beginning of the year is a great time to establish new family traditions. Goal setting is a great agenda item for a Finance Committee Meeting. Look back at what’s not working and create a plan to do things better moving forward.
What elements do you include in your regular Finance Committee Meetings?